Category Archives: Personal Experiences

FIRE AND WATER

 

Canadian campfire

God reaches out to each of us in a unique way, just like how each of us are able to reach out to others in a unique way. God gave each of us different gifts to use, if we chose to. Serving God doesn’t mean we have to become a pastor or a missionary to do so. Who said that you have to be one of these to serve God?

Each of us have our own unique contribution we can make and don’t think for one second that you are not valued!

I wanted to emphasis this verse – 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 (ESV).

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Each one of you are valued in a different way with a different purpose in this life. Now, even though we all have different gifts, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other or acquire additional gifts.

Behold – our differences are what helps BUILD up the body of Christ and advance God’s kingdom. The old saying, “iron sharpens iron” applies to the fellowship of believers. We all have something to learn from and contribute to. When one lacks or is weak in one area, other can contribute from their strength and plenty. THAT is building one another up in love, which binds us all together.

Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV).

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Also, when we serve our brothers, we also serve God. Ponder on that, helping our brother is same as if we helped Christ himself!

Matthew 25:34-40 (ESV).

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Fire and water don’t mix, right? But they each are important for their own purpose. One brother in Christ has a fiery style when it comes to sharing God’s word, sharing His worth with great burning passion. His FIRE is able to alight others, even to those who only have embers remaining.

Yet, FIRE is not always appropriate for all circumstances. There are times when folks need the soothing cool WATER to heal and comfort them through difficult times. Other brother has this style of calming WATER, having the compassion and understanding to stand with other brother through difficult time. To continually uplift and encourage him.

But yet somehow, God was able to mix these two brothers together, FIRE AND WATER – something that no man can do. The FIRE brother infuse fiery passion into the WATER brother and the WATER brother uplift the FIRE brother with encouragements!

God knows exactly what each of us need, whether if that’s FIRE or WATER or something else completely! He knows in some season, we need that FIRE and in other season we need that WATER. And He brings along the right folks in our lives to accomplish God’s purpose. Each of you have your own unique gifts that God gave you and don’t forget that you are valued! You have your own unique story and God loves to write a unique story for each of us. Will you let God in your life and allow Him to use you and write a story for you?

God’s Long Awaited Promises

my father told me that....

As I was speaking to my dear friend and brother in Christ about having more questions than answers. I exclaimed that sometimes that’s the fun part, and of course sometimes it’s not so fun. I don’t think God intends for us to put Him in our small box of understanding. Proverb 25:2 comes to mind

Proverb 25:2 (AMP)
2It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Later that evening when I couldn’t fall asleep so quickly, I decided to flip through the Bible, starting with the Proverb but that didn’t feel right with my heart, then my heart pointed me to the New Testament. I said to myself, I feel like spending time with Jesus! So I casually skimmed/read through the book of John, stopping in various places with brief intent focus before moving on the next. But when I came across this verse

John 3:8 (AMP)
8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

At that moment, my heart stirred once again and I remembered my conversation with my friend from earlier. I thought to myself – BINGO!

And then out of blue, I started writing down what I presume to be Holy Spirit guiding me as I write. I didn’t know if it was intended specifically for me, or my friend or even someone else reading this. Or even a combination of these. The message stayed on my heart until I sent this to my friend the next day. This is what I wrote down –

A man tries to plan,
tries to have it his own way.
Whether if good or ill-intended.
Our preconceived notion, ideas, plans doesn’t necessarily always line up with God’s grand master plan.

How can we constrain God’s way with our own limited way?
How can we constrain God’s way of thinking with our own limited thoughts?
If God says He will deliver, then He will deliver.
Even if it’s a long time coming.

Remember Abraham?
When he waited for so long to receive his long-awaited son,
he thought it was a good idea to try to “help” God.
But God already had this handled,
Already taken care of,
for His Holy Hand isn’t bound, nor is His arm too short.
Yet by Abraham’s flesh, he produced an Ishmael.
Yet by Abraham’s faith and God’s promise, a promised son was born nevertheless!
An Issac!

I remember a while back when God wanted me to go down a particular path in life. He showed me the end destination as for where I was go but I didn’t know all of the details yet. Like Abraham, he didn’t know how and when his promised son would come. I just took it in faith that God will deliver on His promise to deliver me to where He wanted me to be. My flesh also tried to “help” God by planning specific details in order to accomplish where He wanted me to go. I thought this was the specific path and how God would deliver into the next stage of life but yet my preconceived notion wasn’t spot-on! Despite my “help”, God’s plan was still proceeding precisely on schedule, so nothing had been lost nor delayed. Remember my previous blog entry about God opening and closing doors in our life? In my case, I went to the wrong door but fortunately God had it closed so I can go through the correct door. God will deliver on His promise for He is able to!

John 3:8 is so powerful since we are born of the Spirit. We can feel the wind, and know which direction it’s blowing in but yet we cannot hold/contain the wind itself. Our flesh prefers the idea of being in control and yet wind is something we cannot control. So when we’re born of the spirit, we’re essentially giving up our control in life (or at least trying/learning how to do so) and allowing God’s Holy Spirit to guide us. The process might be a bit unpleasant but necessary for our growth!

By God’s own leading, not our own.

Arastradero Open Space Preserve

What does it mean to follow God’s own leading rather than our own? How do we know if our action is God-led or man-led? Where do we even start?

Earlier on the other day, I decided to set aside some time to write a post, not knowing what topic to write. So I grabbed a cup of water, set up my laptop, and sat down ready to type.

Then I sat there staring at a blank Word document… and nothing was coming to my mind. I waited a little bit.

And… still nothing.

So I took out my personal journal containing small tidbits of anything related to God (my own walk with Him, shortcomings, concerns, what I’ve learned, etc…) I looked through them, and it was refreshing to look back on what I’ve learned so far. I thought that might help jog my mind but then I looked back to a blank Word document again and was still getting nothing to my mind.

So I’ve concluded that it wasn’t the time to write a posting. I said something along the line of, “Okay God, I will wait then.” I realized that I was attempting to do this by my own leading, by my own predefined schedule. That’s not how it works with Holy Spirit!

Then later in the day, as I was busy fixing up my dinner and formulating an email to my brother in Christ, God chose at that moment to show me something simple but yet profound. Everything clicked in my head with earlier attempt and experiences in the past. I did find the timing to be funny (as in how God’s timing just happen to fall in a timing I wouldn’t choose) so I had to stop momentarily to collect my thoughts. I realized my experience earlier that day was a lesson by itself! God was showing me, in a very simple manner as my mind could understand it, that I was to follow by His leading, not my own leading. Despite how simple the lesson seems, it has a very powerful implication for the believers and those who profess Christ as their savior.

What God showed me in my heart, was the modern day churches I’ve experienced and read about, how man tries so hard to build effective programs that reaches out to people in order to increase their attendance. Many try to apply business model or man-made thinking to their churches, thinking that it will help further God’s kingdom, or in some cases their own man-made kingdom. Out of what I’ve experienced at churches throughout my lives, I never sensed or felt much of God’s leading in there. Everything seemed to be planned by man – one or two hour of church service at specific time with preplanned agenda (scripture reading at specific time, pre-planned prayer for you to cite, etc…) Even while growing up, that aspect always felt strange to me, as if I was being given a set of script to follow rather than trying to seek God and discover Him for myself. Looking back on this, I realized this hindered and constrained my spiritual growth and relationship with God. It took someone special to encourage me to seek God for myself and realize the inherent God-given gift I had within me all along.

Modern day churches are typically so busy and concerned with following their own man-made agenda, that they lose sight of whom they should really be following – their very own Creator! In doing so, they lose sight of what it really means to follow God and natural thinking increases as thinking in the Holy Spirit decreases. What happens is that people in man-made institution becomes so used to thinking in the natural and begin to view supernatural as strange occurrence (such as God leading or encouraging them personally). Folks like that think that God’s personal involvement or miracle *doesn’t* apply to them or *doesn’t* happen anymore in present-day. They think it’s strange that God would speak personally in their lives. But this kind of thinking reveals their lack of faith in what God are capable of. If you’re one of them, please don’t be alarmed or discouraged! Perhaps, the Holy Spirit is convicting you in this area and hopefully to provoke you to shift your focus toward God so you can start thinking in the Holy Spirit and seeing things from God’s perspective! God is very loving and patient, He desires that all come to Him. He awaits you with His arm wide open!

So that brings us back to this question – how do we go on with being led by the Holy Spirit?? Remember what I wrote about *striving* to attain by our own hand. We cannot *strive* to make Holy Spirit do something. Each person is different and God has a different way of helping each person. I believe if you truly want to be led by the Holy Spirit then ask God for His wisdom and His leading then He’ll help you along the way! Then believe it with all of your heart! After that, just relax and keep an eye on situations, circumstances, people, writings, or anything that might reveal God’s wisdom/leading in your life. He has a wonderful Divine plan for each of you, intricately designed and tailored to each unique individual. Will you come and follow Him? He only wants the best for each of you!

Seeing God’s Gifts in Our Lives

Recently, God has shown me once again how He uses His children to help one another. I am deeply thankful to God for opportunities to be able to fellowship with my dear friends and opportunities to show love to other in many ways. I thought of several friends I hold dear in my life as I write this blog, and I am deeply thankful for their friendship, support, and love. I wanted to share how much that means to me, and to show how beautiful love can be when shared both ways. We’ve encouraged each other in the good times and supported one another when one of us has fallen into a difficult situation. It’s a rare gem in this fallen world where darkness and selfishness reign.

In a way, it allowed me to see a reflection of God’s character in people despite human shortcoming. Just think of how moon reflect sun’s light to illuminate the night. Christians filled with Holy Spirit and God’s enduring love are able to reflect His light onto other people, so people can understand better and learn more about God’s character.

God gave us His children for each other in our lives – for friendship, fellowship, support in difficult times, to care for one another, and the list goes on. In doing so, we are able to reflect God’s love to other people, both believers and unbelievers. Our actions can make a huge difference in someone’s life without realizing it. It might be the only opportunity that person might witness God’s love, possibly planting the seed in that person to eventually come to God later in life. Therefore, we are to make the best of every opportunity in how we interact with people, being able to reflect God’s love onto other’s lives.

I’ve experienced so many times when God spoke through a dear friend of mine, encouraging me and helping me grow ever more in Christ. When I see love, gentleness, kindness in a person, I am seeing a reflection of God’s character and thus this helps me understand Him in a deeper way.

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

I do believe many things in our lives do happen for a reason, if not everything. There are people who builds us up, encourage us in many ways that made an impact on our lives. There are also difficult people or situations that make our lives challenging, but in a way these situation can push us out of our comfort zone and develop new tools/skills for dealing with difficult situations. Regardless, God is always with us in every situation we face, whether good or bad, and He will never abandon us even in the darkest moment.

Once again, I wanted to write to show my appreciation for friendships I had in my life and I look forward to continuing to make new memories as time go along. Praise God for giving us wonderful things in life! He is truly a loving Father and loves to bestow gifts upon us.

God’s Children and His Divine Protection

As I was waiting in the supermarket line, I saw a small child holding hand of what seems to be her older brother. It was a beautiful scene, to see them eagerly exploring the world together! Then I thought about how small and vulnerable the child was, especially considering that the world seems so big to her. Yet the child is probably unaware of so many dangers out there. As I was thinking about her vulnerability, my focus then shifted to a spiritual perspective. In a sense, we are like that child when it comes to our lack of awareness of the dangers in spiritual realm. There are dizzying array of dangers and threats that exists in spiritual realms. The evil forces are extremely determined to steal, destroy and kill us. They are full of hatred against God and His children. But God doesn’t give them full authority to do what they want. The evil forces are limited in what they can do.

Thankfully, we have a very loving and merciful Father who is very determined to watch for us and seek to protect us with His fierce love. It is important that we walk close to God, embrace His protection, leading, and love. Assuming that child had a loving parent, she probably didn’t realize the full extent to how much her parent has protected her all these times. It’s the same case with God. I’m confident there has been so many times when God has prevented danger or bad situation from happening to His children – both believers and non-believers. I can personally attest to that in my life! He has protected me on so many occasions, and even when something bad did happen to me God didn’t let that bad situation run its full course – in other words, limiting the impact of bad situation on my life. In hindsight, I found that God has used these situations to help me grow.

Truly, if one chose to walk away from God, they are choosing to reject His leading, love, and protection in their life. It’s as if a child chose to runs away from a sheltered and loving family to cold, harsh world lacking much in love.

But remember that God doesn’t give up on us, He will keep trying to reach out to us. The prodigal son story is a reflection of how much God loves us and waits for us to come back.

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Ephesians 6:10-20

The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.